African countries demand more money to remove emissions

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SHARM EL-SHEIKH (TBEN) — African countries are seeking more money from schemes that offset greenhouse gas emissions and are looking for ways to address the issue during the UN climate talks currently underway in Egypt.

Carbon offsets, where polluters can effectively offset their emissions by paying for initiatives such as tree planting, are currently cheaper to purchase in Africa than in many other parts of the world where schemes are more tightly regulated. African countries are looking to the climate talks to get a better price in the ‘carbon market’ to help meet their own emissions reduction targets and move to clean energy. The schemes have come under scrutiny from environmental groups who worry they are a license to continue to pollute.

“We need to see carbon trading as an income tool for our development agenda,” Zambian Environment Minister Collins Nzovu told The The Bharat Express News. “If we rush into this market, we may lose our national heritage and give it away at a low price that we will regret in the future.”

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In carbon trading, one credit issued is equal to one tonne of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gas equivalent removed from the atmosphere. The voluntary carbon market, which remains dominant in Africa, is plagued by concerns about integrity and transparency. In the African market, the continent currently earns less than $10 per tonne of carbon. Other regions can secure more than $100 for the same amount in some cases.

Yet carbon credit schemes have had relative success in Kenya, Tanzania and Congo.

The Ntakata Mountains Project in Tanzania, for example, has ensured that local communities now have more money for schools, community clinics and infrastructure. Similar success has been reported in the Mikoko Pamoja project in Kenya, as well as others across the continent.

But efforts continue to make the industry more regulated, especially in Africa.

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“Integrity carbon registers, ensuring a supply of high-quality and reliable credit that is tradable in global foreign exchange markets, are critical and will enable African countries to succeed in those processes,” said Antonio Pedro, the executive secretary of the United Nations. UN Economic Commission for Africa.

Pedro added that significant support from developed countries, where the demand for such high-quality carbon credits will be required, is essential for regulating markets. But to ensure that the market doesn’t push emissions even further, there must be restrictions on how companies can use carbon credits.

On Wednesday, US climate envoy John Kerry announced a controversial plan to encourage large companies to tap carbon markets, raising concerns from environmental groups that it would allow companies to continue emitting at higher rates. Kerry insisted that the credits would be “highly regulated” and that there were multiple “guardrails against abuse,” including the types of companies that can buy them and how they can be used.

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A study released on Saturday at the UN summit by the Africa Climate Policy Center found that the continent has a chance of limiting global warming to temperatures enshrined in the Paris agreement if the price of a carbon credit is pegged at $120 per tonne of carbon. That would bring in about $82 billion a year, the report shows.

Experts say that if carbon markets are to be effective in limiting warming, they must be credible.

“Carbon markets must be treated with integrity as they bring benefits to both the investor and the communities. There have been bad experiences in the past. Integrity in carbon markets is key,” said Pedro.

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The Bharat Express News climate and environmental awareness receives support from several private foundations. Read more about TBEN’s climate initiative here. The TBEN is solely responsible for all content.